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Thaba Chweu reneges on Eskom bill – again

Late last year, as reported in the November 2013 issue of THG, Eskom finally got completely ‘gatvol’ with the shenanigans and repeated non-payments of the Thaba Chweu municipality and, figuratively speaking, “held a gun to the municipality’s head”. “Pay up, or we pull the plug” was the blunt message. After all, they were owed more than R160 million by the municipality at that stage, so no big surprise.

Due to the huge implications of such a drastic measure (no electricity equals no water – for example), everyone, including Mpumalanga’s Premier, David Mabuza, all ran around like chickens with no heads to avert the looming disaster. Including, according to Premier Mabuza, “The formation of a task team to identify problem areas and take urgent and immediate action” and the existence of “an international funder” that will give the (TCM) municipality “a grant” to enable it to pay off its debt.

Judging by the current state of affairs, these measures have turned out to be just so much hot air.
So now, less than a year later, despite all the hoo-hah, here we are again. Eskom recently served a notice of disconnection on the Thaba Chweu Municipality (TCM) threatening that the municipality’s electricity supply will be disconnected on October 11 due to non-payment of arrears of more than R196 million. TCM has, once again, reneged on its commitments and Eskom are once again at boiling point. Once again, residents and their homes and livelihoods are threatened. And Thaba Chweu’s comment…? “The municipality is in continuous engagement with Eskom regarding the debt. Eskom is better place to respond to the cut-off. Thaba Chweu will not speak on its behalf.” Cold comfort indeed to affected residents who face huge losses. Politico-babble about the ‘re-structuring of the Dept. of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in order to offer permanent assistance to struggling municipalities’ and other such double speak is not going to keep the lights on.

Eskom has since confirmed that the notice has indeed been served on the municipality and is legitimate. They have also indicated that they would like to receive feedback from residents on the planned disconnection before proceeding. Well, brace yourselves Eskom, because it’s a sure bet that you are going to receive a deluge of ‘feedback’ from TCM residents who have, once again, been left in the lurch by a municipality that lurches from one crisis to another.

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